37 Historical Items Unearthed By Surprised Construction Workers
37 Historical Items Unearthed By Surprised Construction Workers

37 Historical Items Unearthed By Surprised Construction Workers

Trista - September 24, 2019

37 Historical Items Unearthed By Surprised Construction Workers
Two paleontologists and an archaeologist plaster a whale skeleton in a construction site. Credit: Santa Cruz Sentinel/Shmuel Thaler

31. Whale Fossils on a California Beach

Construction crews working on single-family homes in the Santa Cruz mountains have discovered whale remains believed to date back to four million years ago. The construction site, located in Scotts Valley, now has a small team of paleontologists working to completely free the whale, estimated to be around 25 feet in length. The scientists have covered the bones in plaster to hold them in place and protect them during excavation. Not only is it the first whale of its age, but it is also the first mostly intact whale, which is what makes it so unique, says paleontologist Scott Armstrong.

37 Historical Items Unearthed By Surprised Construction Workers
Cornerstone Construction workers unearth fossils at Carlsbad construction site. Credit: PBS

32. 200,000-Year-Old Woolly Mammoth Bones

These contractors were lucky not to have to deal with human bones – instead, they discovered dozens of fossils from the Ice Age. Cornerstone Communities, a San Diego area contracting company, was developing a 636 unit subdivision in Carlsbad, California when they stumbled upon these ice age fossils. They’ve discovered skulls and partial skeletons from a bison, a woolly mammoth, an antique horse, and an antique turtle. California law does require a paleontologist be on-site when large amounts of dirt are being moved in case they find a fossil, so they quickly addressed the process in this situation.

37 Historical Items Unearthed By Surprised Construction Workers
Archaeologists unearth stone tools from 10,000 years ago. Credit: Seattle Times

33. Stone Tools Found in Redmond, Washington

Before construction even began on this project, archaeologists were brought on for an archaeological survey to clear the way. It quickly became apparent that there was more than met the eye at this particular site. By the time they finished, they had found more than 4,000 tools created over 10,000 years ago. Some of the devices even revealed traces of the food the users were eating, like bison, deer, bear, sheep, and salmon! The project was initially set to restore the salmon habitat in Bear Creek, but they delayed it as they attempt to protect and preserve the remaining artifacts.

37 Historical Items Unearthed By Surprised Construction Workers
Construction workers digging near Washington Park uncover two burial chambers. Credit: Smithsonian

34. Bodies Below Greenwich Village

The City of New York knew it could encounter human remains, which is why the group worked with archaeologists from the beginning of its project to install a water main. As workers dug near Washington Square Park, they found two burial chambers housing crypts thought to be over 200 years old. From 1797 to 1825, the area served as a public burial ground, which easily explains the dozens of bones found remaining in the field to this day. City officials worked to revise their construction plan to avoid any impact to the burial vault, which likely included changing the course of the subterranean pipes.

37 Historical Items Unearthed By Surprised Construction Workers
Sealed glass time capsule found on MIT campus. Credit: News Atlas

35. Pre-1906 Earthquake Chinatown Artifacts Found in Subway Construction

The Central Subway project, a line that would ultimately link Chinatown and South of Market in San Francisco, led to the discovery of what turned out to be 19th-century industrial sewing machines. They believed these sewing machines were used in the basement of a Chinatown factory that likely burned down or collapsed in the 1906 earthquake and ensuing fire. Sonoma State University was one of several archaeological consultants hired to assist with the excavation and analysis.

36. A Blast from MIT’s Past

A sealed glass time capsule that bears the hand-written note “Please do not open until 2957 AD,” has been found on the MIT campus by workers building the new nano-building. It contains a letter to the people of the next millennium and historical artifacts from the year 1957 when they initially buried it. Its design reflects that of the Westinghouse Time Capsule, buried at the 1939 World Fair.

According to MIT, this is one of eight time capsules the university has buried to commemorate various events, like the 1939 time capsule buried to celebrate the installation of a new cyclotron. They meant to recover the capsule in 1989, but they forgot about it under the 36,000-pound reinforced concrete slab.

37 Historical Items Unearthed By Surprised Construction Workers
Schuykill County officials work on a recently discovered mass burial site. Credit: WNEP

37. A Mass Burial Site

In August 2015, while digging on Route 61 in Schuykill County, construction crews discovered a decade-old mass human burial site believed to have belonged to victims of the Spanish Influenza. Approximately 1,600 locals died in one month from the virus, and it was not uncommon for people to be buried in large unmarked graves like this one, as grave diggers could not keep up with the demand for individual graves.

They conducted DNA tests on the remains and gave proper burials to the individuals in the graves.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

The 13 Most Bizarre Historical Artifacts Ever Discovered On Construction Sites.

(2018, August 10). Native American fort, artifacts found at construction site.

Gardner, S. (2019, July 17). Centuries-old ceramics, other artifacts found at St. Augustine construction site.

Little, B. (2017, December 19). The Most Amazing Artifacts Discovered While Building Rome’s Subway.

(2014, May 27). Artifacts Discovered Under Ballpark Construction Site.

Video, T. (2015, December 11). Santa letter written sixty years ago found up chimney.

(2014, June 21). 10 Weird And Wonderful Discoveries Made During Construction.

CBSDenver. (2019, February 14). Human Bones Found At Aurora Housing Construction Site Could Be 1,000 Years Old.

Hedmond, S. (2016, January 11). The 12 Strangest Things Found On Construction Sites in 2015.